Orzo with Basil Pesto Dressing & Arugula Salad

Orzo, also risoni, is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. Orzo can be served alone, as a soup accompaniment, as part of a salad or pilaf or giouvetsi or baked in a casserole.

This tiny pastina, orzo, makes a mighty appearance in this cold salad of savory greens, juicy grape or Roma tomatoes and a tasty Basil Pesto dressing .  For this dish you can make the pesto ahead of time and keep on hand, or make it just before assembling the salad.  It’s so quick and easy that it only adds 5 minutes to your prep time.

pesto (1 of 1)

Eat This With That

Easy for summer-time picnics, outdoor barbecues or a light and aromatic side dish for baked, fried or grilled fish or chicken.  Pair this with any meat dish and you are sure to enjoy it either way you choose.  This dish stands alone and is great as a light lunch, as well.

Lighten It Up

I use whole wheat orzo in place of traditional orzo.  Also, you can bulk up this dish using less orzo and more arugula and tomatoes.  This is dish is already on the light side so enjoy.  Keep in mind that Orzo is a pasta, so be careful not to over do on this tasty dish, which is easy to do because it is so light and delicious.

Orzo with Basil Pesto Dressing & Arugula Salad

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 8-10 mins
Yields: 4-6 Servings


  • For the Pasta Salad:
  • 1-1pound package whole wheat organic Orzo
  • 3 cups baby organic arugula, washed
  • 2 cups organic cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small organic red onion, chopped
  • For the Vinaigrette:
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Basil Pesto (see link above)
  • 1 teaspoons organic honey or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and to wash away some of the starches. Allow the pasta to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together vigorously in a mixing bowl while slowly adding the olive oil. Adjust to taste. Set aside in a container.
  4. Toss the cold pasta, tomatoes, onion, and arugula with the pesto dressing, Mix to coat, evenly. Serve cold.


Only rinse your pasta if it is intended for a cold pasta salad dish. This dish and the pesto can be made ahead!

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